The twilight zone of Aspen

Tony Vagneur

Thanksgiving day, 2005, my daughter Lauren and I were driving through Hooper, Colorado. If you don’t know where that is, you’re not a UFO aficionado because Hooper has a specially constructed platform built strictly for the viewing of unidentified flying objects. It was about 6:30 a.m., just after daybreak, and as I looked right, out across the desert at the backdrop of mountains, I spotted something akin to a fireball moving across the land toward us. It was kind of vague, blurred around the edges, but then a quick blink of my eyes revealed there was nothing unusual in my line of sight.The options for belief were numerous, such as perhaps an aberrant mirage, tired eyes – or had I seen something not meant for the human eye? Were I disposed to being a practitioner of UFO demagoguery, I may have begun relating my story to anyone who would listen.Back in the early ’60s, coming off the period commonly referred to as the Quiet Years, we saw things happening around town that were the stuff of childlike dreams. One day, a group of us had just come out of the Hotel Jerome after an après-ski ice cream treat, and witnessed the Mill and Main insanity. With no traffic lights, pedestrians didn’t have a chance around that time of day, as everyone was heading back home after a day’s skiing at Aspen Mountain or Highlands and, just as it has been since the beginning, everyone was in a big damned hurry.A guy standing over by the Cantina (Epicure in those days) had tired of waiting for a break against the traffic and was crossing Main in front of the oncoming traffic, skis over his shoulder. One of those old Volvos, green in color, the kind that looked like a 1940 Ford sedan, was sluggishly heading east on Main and either didn’t see the walker, or just didn’t care, and kept driving right at him. The pedestrian didn’t seem all that perturbed, at least for a second, but as the car got right up to him, he placed a ski-booted foot on the bumper, then one on the fender, and climbed right up over the top of the car, skittered down the back and got off about where he’d started. The car never stopped, the hoofer never lost control of his skis, and us kids watching were pretty much speechless. In the ’80s, after a quick lunch at the Hickory House, three or four of us were getting ready to cross Main and claim our car when we heard the cacophonous wail of a police siren coming in on Highway 82. Waiting for the noise to pass, we were amazed by what we saw. Ripping around the corner at Main and 7th came a cop car, lights ablaze and alarm crying. Hooked to the left rear bumper of the car was a baby carriage, which appeared to be empty. Sad, but don’t be so quick – attached to the baby carriage, by a leash, was a big brown dog, doing his best to keep up with the car, but clearly losing the battle.The racket of the rig faded out of range, we all sort of caught our collective breath, and one of us called the cop shop (by pay phone) to alert them to the problem. It was one of those things that never got explained. It didn’t make the paper; calls to city hall and the police department yielded no answers, other than total denial that the incident ever took place. We knew we were being stonewalled and gave up, but I still can’t help but wonder what it was that kept the mother silent. Hooper has nothing on Aspen.Tony Vagneur saw some other stuff, but he’s sworn to secrecy. Read him here on Saturdays and send mail to